[UMC?] Another use for the map editor - cartography

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Simons Mith
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[UMC?] Another use for the map editor - cartography

Post by Simons Mith »

Inspired by Quensul's Wercator idea and the current hi-res map discussion, I wondered if the map editor might already be able to do a lot of what we might want.

Take the existing Wesnoth campaign map. The master is 1024x768, which with 72px hexes is about 11x18 hexes(!). So if you wanted to roughly trace the main map, it wouldn't take too long. But there's no reason you couldn't get a much finer level of detail by drawing it at around a scale of about 6:1 (66x108 hexes). At that size, one 'hex' contains one or two hills or trees, which is roughly the same level of detail as the master map. If you created a 'cartography era', which used pen and ink-style images for terrain such as hills and forests (i.e. like an old-style hand-drawn map), you could use the editor to produce a passable version of the main Wesnoth map. Ink smudges and the like could even be done using terrain embellishments.

I experimented with this idea, cutting up the main Wesnoth map into hexes and bodging it into the editor, and without proper terrain transitions it did look pretty horrible, but it did seem workable. The biggest puzzle was how to keep cartography-style hexes using the same terrain codes as normal game-style hexes. Ideally they should be variants, I suppose, but you don't want them to be picked up automatically in a standard map. I bodged this problem away by renaming the standard terrain folders.

But even if rivers, roads and coastlines have to be hand-drawn afterwards, we already have the ability to generate all the other terrain types. And if we use enormous map sizes knowing they are going to be scaled down later, even quite crudely-drawn 'cartography terrain' should look acceptable, and roads and rivers which zigzag up and down by half a hex when moving horizontally would be 'smoothed' by the scaling process.

As was also pointed out in the other thread, terrain tends to have a fractal nature. A map scaling tool that could scale a map up or down by inserting or deleting pseudo-random terrain could be written to work on the standard Wesnoth map format. I could probably code such a thing myself, but ideally it should be done in Python, and that's not a language I'm familiar with. Such a tool would allow you to 'zoom in' on a big map and have finer detail invented for you. With care, the process should be repeatable by tracking the random number seeds used at each stage.

If I produce some sample screen grabs that aren't totally hideous, I'll come back and post them here.
Last edited by Gambit on October 17th, 2010, 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Congratulations... I couldn't come up with a good tag for this. :)
 
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